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Saint Camillus de Lellis

Humanly speaking, Camillus was not a likely candidate for sainthood. Born 1550, his mother died when he was a child, his father neglected him, and he grew up with an excessive love for gambling. At 17, he was afflicted with a disease of his leg that remained with him for life

Saint Camillus de Lellis

Humanly speaking, Camillus was not a likely candidate for sainthood. Born 1550, his mother died when he was a child, his father neglected him, and he grew up with an excessive love for gambling. At 17, he was afflicted with a disease of his leg that remained with him for life.

After three years in the Venetian army in the winter of 1574, when he was 24, Camillus gambled away everything he had but forced by the circumstances he accepted work in a Capuchin friary where a sermon changed his heart. Camillus devoted the rest of his life to the care of the sick. Along with Saint John of God he has been named patron of hospitals, nurses, and the sick. With the advice of his friend Saint Philip Neri, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained at the age of 34. Contrary to the advice of his friend, Camillus left San Giacomo and founded a congregation of his own. As superior, he devoted much of his own time to the care of the sick. Camillus insisted on cleanliness and the technical competence of those who served the sick.

The members of his community bound themselves to serve prisoners and persons infected by the plague as well as those dying in private homes. Some of his men were with troops fighting in Hungary and Croatia in 1595, forming the first recorded military field ambulance. Camillus himself suffered the disease of his leg through his life. In his last illness, he left his own bed to see if other patients in the hospital needed help.

He died on 14 July 1614. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746

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